Skip to comments.From trophy wife to toxic wife
Posted on 01/15/2007 7:16:36 PM PST by Lorianne
Decadent stay-at-home wives who take their rich husbands for a ride have finally been rumbled, says Tara Winter Wilson
Once upon a time, there was a truth, universally acknowledged, that a man with a powerful job and a beautiful house must be in want of a wife preferably of the trophy variety. Domesticated, docile yet dazzling, she was the perfect finishing touch.
Not any more. According to research to be published in the journal Labour Economics, the earnings gap between married couples is narrowing. While in the 1980s it was the case that the higher a professional man's salary the fewer paid hours his wife would put in, men today are more likely to want a dynamic high-flier, an equal who wows him as much in the boardroom as in the bedroom.
Poisonous: 'It is like a perversion of the evolution theory: they have evolved into creatures whose function is simply to get the most for doing the least, says one husband A victory for feminism? Sadly not. The reason for this change, sisters, is nothing to be proud of.
Rich men, I believe, have finally cottoned on to the sinister side of the stay-at-home wife: unless you marry an equal who's going to pay her own way, you will end up with a lazy, indulgent, over-pampered slug. For the transition from trophy wife to toxic wife is as fast as the end result is furious.
I should know: many men of my age and acquaintance have become deeply bitter and disappointed about how their wives have changed since they hung up their working wardrobes. I am talking about university-educated women (often Oxbridge graduates) who do a couple of years work in the City before harnessing themselves to a milch cow and "having it all".
Apparently there's a new take on "having it all" and it's not what the majority of us understood it to mean. Back in the 1970s, it meant effortlessly maintaining a beautiful home, entertaining in grand style, raising perfect children, keeping the husband sweet and having some sort of career in order to create financial independence.
"Superwoman" was the phrase coined for these energetic pioneers; "trophy wives" for the less energetic ones. Today it's a whole new ball game.
"It is like a perversion of the evolution theory: they have evolved into creatures whose function is simply to get the most for doing the least," whispered an exhausted husband to me recently. "I wouldn't mind providing her with so much if she just did something for me occasionally. She's never even once cooked me a meal."
"She doesn't know the definition of sacrifice," said another angry husband. "Relationships are meant to be about compromise, but she is more about selfishness. I bend and adapt to her needs, yet all she gives me are ultimatums."
"Can't you just divorce?" I asked.
"Are you kidding?" he replied. "I'd lose everything I've worked for, including my children, and I'd be paying her an indecent amount of money for life."
"There's another reason these husbands don't divorce," added a sympathetic onlooker. "They don't want to admit to failure they don't want to be ungallant. There's an unspoken nobility or gentlemanly understanding that divorce is something they don't do."
Indeed, "something they don't do" is a mantra that extends to practically every area of toxic wifedom. Once an intelligent, educated woman who could hold her own in any dinner-party conversation, the toxic wife will do nothing of the sort.
"They not only become utterly vacant, they never throw dinner parties or entertain anyone outside of their small, closeted circle of other vacant wives," said irate husband number one.
"None of us can understand this: they become obsessed with perfection, grooming, with all aspects of their personal appearance in a word, they become boring."
"Vain, boring, indulgent and lazy," adds yet another voice to the growing army of fed-up husbands. "I have to take the children out of the house every Sunday morning and wander around with them trying to find things to do because my wife must have a lie-in. I'm only allowed back in the house after 11am. Sunday is the nanny's day off, you see."
"My wife," chipped in husband number two, "gives over the whole of the weekend to pursuing what she calls 'me time'. She goes to retreats, yoga mini-breaks, a spa, a health farm, even art classes all of which I pay for, of course. What do I get back in return? Nothing."
So today's concept of a wife "having it all", simply put, means never doing anything personally if she can pay someone else to do it for her. And if she can't find someone else, her husband must do it.
"To be frank," said another unfortunate husband, "I was conned. And I'm by no means the only one. There's a pattern of behaviour that these wives all adopt."
There are five tell-tale signs, apparently. First, she gives up work, ostensibly to care for the brood, only to have the children packed off to either boarding school or intensive (ie, lots of extra-curricular activities) private day schools.
Secondly, she suddenly wants to move somewhere more rural/suburban that suits her idea of family life, yet location-wise is horrendous for her exhausted, ever-commuting husband.
Thirdly, she demands wall-to-wall help, which nearly always includes an abused Filipina who works 12-14 hours a day, six days a week.
Fourthly, she refuses to fulfil in any way the traditional contract of the non-working spouse in terms of doing anything for her husband (such as cooking), while, fifthly, she expects her husband to fulfil the traditional but anachronistic male role in the household (such as paying all the bills).
Here is a typical day outlined by one husband of a toxic wife.
5.30am: Husband leaves for London. 7.45am: Filipina brings wife tea in bed. 8am: Nanny takes children to school. 8.30am: Breakfast, suduko and the papers. 9.30am-4pm: God knows; possibly gym, spa, shopping, boozy lunch with friends, nap or massage. 4pm: Nanny collects children from school. 5.30pm: Nanny gives children tea and goes home. 7pm: Filipina gives children bath. 7.30pm: Wife disappears off to book group. 9pm: Husband returns and roots around for an M&S ready-meal. 10.30pm: Wife returns. Bed. 10.35pm: Sex? In your dreams.
If the above timetable seems hideously parasitic, it is, and so is the woman behind it. The other day I nervously accepted an invitation for lunch with an old school friend. I felt daunted because, several years ago, she married a rich banker and I'd been dumped from her circle.
"Sorry I'm late," I said on arriving at her mansion. "Got stuck in traffic so bad it gave me road rage."
"Road rage?" replied Olivia, her eyes swivelling down to my shoes and up to my hair in a split, judgmental second. "Well, I'm suffering from maid rage. I mean, come and look "
She led me into her kitchen, three times the size of my flat, and slid open a drawer. "How shoddy is that?" She was holding up a fork.
"What's wrong with it?" I asked, peering at it politely.
"Just look! It has a disgusting piece of encrusted mashed potato on it. I mean, it's so shoddy! She can't even unload a dishwasher. I'm really going to have to sack her. And guess what else I discovered this morning? When I opened the towel cupboard after my bath, I noticed that she'd stacked the pink towels amongst the white ones. Can you believe it?"
What made this conversation so scary was the fact that the terrified Filipina was in the room with us, hunched over a table slicing up bits of duck and foie gras for our lunch. "Juanita!" snapped Olivia. "This is your last chance. Do you understand me? You'll be back in Manila within the week I couldn't possibly recommend you to anyone. Understand?"
"Yes Madam," she sniffed with a tremulous sob.
"And stop dripping your revolting bodily fluids over our lunch. Throw that away and start again. "
Horrified by her manner and the distressing scene, I asked her for a tour of her home. She had just moved into one of those massive houses in Chelsea Square. Rich folk tolerate people like me (ie, broke ones) only because we make them feel better about themselves.
"Would love to, darling," she drawled, "but first how about a drinkie-poo? Juanita! Open the champagne chilling in the wine fridge and bring it upstairs to the south drawing-room."
"Yes Madam," replied the poor slave.
"I won't have any, thanks," I said. "I'm driving and have to pick my children up from school."
"You mean you don't have a nanny to do it?" Olivia's eyes glared with horror. "I have the most delightful Norland one. Although the uniform is brown and ghastly, they are so well trained. She's downstairs in the basement doing my ironing at the moment "
This was now utterly surreal. I had no idea that real people lived like this. Yet, minute by agonising minute, it got worse. I tried a bit of light humour.
"Well, let's hope she's not weeping tears on to your party dresses, eh?"
"What?" snapped Olivia.
"Well, then you'd ask her to redo the whole lot again, wouldn't you?"
"Possibly," she replied. "But a little moisture is no bad thing when ironing out the creases "
Was she exhibiting a dry wit? I didn't know. In her pre-toxic wife days, she was amusing and droll. Now we were different beings living in parallel universes. She showed me lavish room after lavish room, and at one point I heard some strange shuffling coming from one of her closets. Maybe her life is not so perfect after all, I thought; maybe she has rats.
As we sat down to lunch in the "informal" dining-room adjacent to the kitchen in an open-plan L-shape, I noticed that Juanita was eating a rather more humble repast slightly around the corner; although I couldn't see all of her, I could detect an elbow jutting out from time to time.
"She won't be joining us then?"
"Are you mad?" cried Olivia. "Why would I want to even see my servants?"
As if on cue, a wizened little Filipino man appeared, bowing and scraping. "Madam, I have finished all the shoes. I will go now, thank you madam." He hurried out.
"See you on Thursday as normal, Pedro," she replied, barely glancing at him.
"Where did he spring from?" I asked. After all, I'd just endured an exhaustive survey of her house, and there had been no sign of Pedro.
"Oh, he's our shoe polisher. He comes twice a week. He works in a cupboard probably why you didn't notice him." No rats after all.
Here was an educated woman who spent her days rotting her brain with alcohol, and bossing an army of staff.
"Olivia," I said, "don't you miss your old job, your financial independence? Isn't all this a bit decadent?"
"Forget the work ethic," she laughed. "Why on earth would I want to struggle, feel tired and look old before my time?"
I left, more agitated than when I arrived. Forget road rage; I was suffering from toxic-wife rage. Driving to collect my children, the outside world felt like a haven of normality and peace. How I pitied these rich and successful men who had naively hoped for a domestic goddess, only to end up with a diva.
Wake up, toxic wives, the game is over. Your milch cows have seen the light of day. You are toxic, you are trouble and you are about to become extinct.
News flash... Stupidity makes one miserable...
probably dumping their efficient, sympathetic, domestic but frumpy wives for them as well.
What kind of life is leaving 5:30 in the morning for work, getting home at 10:30? Sex?? He's lucky he is still walking.
This sounds like a guy who wants a trophy wife but can't get one.
been there .done that. not much worse than the toxic wife.
When I hear trophy wife usually think of the old fart marrying the sweet young thing.....So I agree, no sympathy here, they married the bimbo.
I will never forget Dr. Laura telling one of her callers that his children will always refer to her is the bimbo. When she protested Dr. Laura simply stated "Of course you are, smart women do not date married men."
Bookmarked. This is EXACTLY why I have chosen to remain single.
Around 1510 Luca Landucci, a small time Florentine apothecary, recorded on the death of his wife Salvestra that over 48 years of their marriage she had never once made him angry. Behold the miracle, and bare your head in front of it [Over the centuries his diary has been considered by historians as a generally trustworthy source, so Luca is not believed to be a fibber].
Strong argument for an air tight prenup. Nothing new here, you see these women around all the time. They have that air of vapidity around them constantly.
I've been single since the early 90's. Had a horrible marriage, a horrible wife too. I've not had the guts to try it again.
I think it was Ann Landers who said that you are the only person who can make you act like a carpet, or words to that effect.
In this case, the complaint has been raised against a situation that was allowed to develop over the course of years. They want instant solutions to problems like this?
They aren't going to find any. Solutions will also take years, re-education, altering both their expectations about themselves and about each other, and most of all a recognition that there *are* problems, *and* that they need to change.
Both people are the problem, and the problem is probably already overlapping and affecting their children in all sorts of bad ways.
For the husband to have married a workaholic woman would have been just as bad, just as many problems, if different ones.
They all need a major re-alignment of their stuff.
People change--and not for the better....
Great wives exist. There are plenty of fantastic women out there. Just don't stop at mere looks or you'll keep wanting to select a mate for sex.
I happen to be one of those "trophy" wives, who married a man 23 years older than me 20 years ago.
I don't understand the bitterness in some of these stories, except maybe from some first wives. When I met my husband his first wife was dead, and it took awhile, but his kids love me today, and call on me when they need help, and they are closer to me than him.
I actually am enjoying grandkids his first wife missed out on, and I feel sorry that she didn't experience the joy they give me. His kids know I am here for them, and our home is their home as well as mine, they always know they are welcome here (I've worked hard to make them know this).
Back in the old days, when wives died early (often in childbirth), men married much younger women to help raise his kids, and often had more with the younger wife. My husband didn't have that problem, and his kids, although only a few years younger than me, know that I love them. And their kids are my pride and joy, I am a young grandma and we camp and fish together, they love me.
I have the best of worlds, never had to experience a labor pain, but have beautiful grandkids who are now my fishing partners.
I do work for a good number of very wealthy people and there isn't one of them that is what this guy describes.
I'm actually horrified, rather than amused. At one point during my marriage, I found myself doing approximately 27 loads of laundry a week. The house wiring was bad, so I hung it all on clotheslines. The dryer would knock out all the power on one side of the house. I cooked enough food for a platoon, spent most of my time at the principal's office, discussing our son's behavior. I was discouraged from holding down a job. I did it anyway, but had to turn my paycheck over to him.
If these toxic wives actually knew how good they had it, maybe they'd pop in the kitchen and cook for their husbands and children. You know....like being a wife, not a leech.
Ping (still around?)
"When a man marries his mistress, he creates a vacancy." -- Oscar Wilde
Not picking on you - just using your post to point out that the assumption several posters here have made that the author is a man seems to be incorrect. From the first sentence of the article: "Decadent stay-at-home wives who take their rich husbands for a ride have finally been rumbled, says Tara Winter Wilson."
It's possible. My husband has said I have annoyed him at times, but he has never actually been angry.
I have mixed emotions regarding Dr. Laura. Sometimes she comes up with some doozies. One man called in saying that when his ex wife heard he was going to remarry, she told him she wanted him back. Dr. Laura told him to patch up his family and go back to his ex! The bitch was gaming the poor guy : (
Soon to be 26 years with my lovely bride, love of my life.
Oooh, what a lucky man I am.
Word. I am recently divorced. I do all my own cleaning, cooking, ironing, and geez, it doesn't THAT long.
I'm not quite sure what I'm looking for yet, and in the meantime there's lots of silly liberal girls who were fooled by the "free love" mantra of the 60's. :-)
Am I the only one who finds this story a little too contrived and hard to take seriously? Maybe I don't understand that it can be true because I have no way to relate to a woman who would act that way.
My brother has married a woman very much like this. Not quite as tyrannical, but just as snobbish.
Nothing in your story allows me to believe you are a trophy wife. You lack vapidity. You may have some things in common with trophy wives, but you give back too much to qualify for that title.
Does your husband have any available brothers???
Thanks for your post. It made me smile.
Q: Why are divorces so much more expensive the weddings?
A: They're worth it!
Can't you just divorce?" I asked.
"Are you kidding?" he replied. "I'd lose everything I've worked for, including my children, and I'd be paying her an indecent amount of money for life."
Has anyone ever heard of a contract hit??
The two husbands cited are not identified. They could be inventions but there are such shallow people out there--male and female. What a contrast to THIS:
I have news for you, honey. Trophy wives do NOT camp and fish. They wouldn't do anything that might mess up their manicures. (seriously...)
This story is about the British culture where kids are expected to be packed off to boarding school at the proper age.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Thanks for a such a positive post.
I'm sorry but I just gets shades of Jayson Blair when I read this.
"says one husband"
"many men of my age and acquaintance"
"whispered an exhausted husband to me recently"
"said another angry husband"
"added a sympathetic onlooker"
"said irate husband number one"
"adds yet another voice to the growing army of fed-up husbands"
"chipped in husband number two"
"said another unfortunate husband"
"typical day outlined by one husband of a toxic wife"
I cannot prove that this writer didn't talk to these "husbands" but the sheer number of the equally inflicted just smacks of the new "anonymous sources journalism" where even first names aren't listed.
Except for "friend" Olivia. Somehow the writer has known said Olivia for a while and yet seems to have known nothing about her. The writers sharpest commentary is applied to the one source actually named - well first name at least.
There are no doubt women that do fit the profile highlighted here but it just comes across as a writer taking random thoughts, maybe some true tidbits here and there, and creating a composite reality via invented sources.
Same here. I got divorced in '91 . . . still got cold feet. It is gonna take an exceptional woman for me to do that again.
I used to listen to her and I did learn some good things from her. She said some things IMO that were way out of line. I have not listened to her for a long time and I think our local station dropped her.
I like that quote....